Accused lawmaker sues Senate over 'mystery' sex harassment probe
Sacramento Bee's TARYN LUNA: "Sen. Tony Mendoza, under investigation for sexual harassment of three former employees, filed a lawsuit Thursday that asserts the Senate has treated him unfairly and violated his constitutional rights when a panel of lawmakers extended his voluntary leave of absence late last month."
"The Senate’s disparate treatment of its own members and their constituents, along with its constantly evolving and secretive investigative process is wrong and deeply troubling,” Mendoza said in a statement. “The Senate’s process and procedures for handling sexual harassment allegations remain a mystery, which unfairly impacts not only me, but also my constituents, the public, and victims of sexual harassment, who have no idea how their complaints will be handled."
"The Bee reported sexual harassment allegations against Mendoza last fall involving three former employees over the last 10 years, which prompted the Senate to hire an outside law firm to investigate the Artesia Democrat."
READ MORE related to Me Too: New claims of misconduct arise against Assembly member Cristina Garcia, already on leave while facing harassment accusations -- AP's KATHLEEN RONAYNE
Dry weather expected to persist in most of California
The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER/SOPHIE HAIGNEY: "The odds of a March miracle rescuing California from a desperately dry winter are not looking good."
"Thursday’s monthly report from the federal Climate Prediction Center cites below-average rain and snow as the most likely weather scenario for almost all of the state for the next three months."
"California has seen only a fraction of its average rainfall since December, with parts of the southern state getting less than 2 inches during what’s historically the rainiest part of the year. Water managers have been holding out hope that the end of winter or early spring might bring a turnaround."
READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: Fragranced products to blame for smog as much as cars, study finds -- The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE; Radiation levels near this Siberian village were 1,000 times above normal last fall. But no one worried much -- LA Times' SABRA AYRES; Oroville Dam: Assemblyman James Gallagher brings group of legislators to Oroville -- Chico ER's RISA JOHNSON; Bay Area forecast: Pleasant weekend, then coldest temperatures of 2018 -- Mercury News' MARK GOMEZ; Google buys big downtown San Jose storage complex, resuming village purchases -- BANG's GEORGE AVALOS
CalPERS pension or a 401(k)? State workers could choose under Democrat's bill
Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON: "New state workers would have a choice about whether they want to join CalPERs under a bill a Senate Democrat submitted on Wednesday."
"The bill by Sen. Steve Glazer of Orinda is a long shot. Lawmakers last year rejected other proposals to change public employee pensions, such as a bill that would have suspended cost-of-living adjustments that retirees receive."
"Glazer’s proposal, Senate Bill 1149, would enable new state workers to choose alternate retirement options outside of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, such as a defined contribution 401(k) plan."
House votes to gut the Americans with Disabilities Act to nip 'abuse lawsuits'
Newsweek's CARLOS BALLESTEROS: "In a 225-192 vote Thursday, most House Republicans and a dozen Democrats passed a bill that makes it harder for disabled persons to sue for discrimination, in an effort to prevent opportunistic attorneys from taking advantage of business owners."
"But many disability and civil rights groups fear the bill will weaken incentives for businesses to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which mandates equal access to public accommodations."
"Proponents argue that the bill, the ADA Education and Reform Act, or H.R. 620, is necessary to stem the flow of "drive-by lawsuits" brought by lawyers who only wish to line their pockets. The bill would require those filing suit in federal court against businesses for not complying with the ADA to first give that business 60 days to devise a plan to fix the problem. They then have another 120 days to implement the changes."
California Congresswoman issues statement opposing bill to undermine the ADA
Sierra Sun Times: "House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued this statement opposing the discriminatory anti-ADA legislation, H.R. 620, which is scheduled for a vote on Thursday:"
“For more than a quarter of a century, the Americans with Disabilities Act has advanced our nation’s mission to build a fair, equal and just future for all. This milestone law has transformed the lives of the 55 million Americans who live with a disability, and shattered barriers to full participation in society. Congress should be building on that progress, not undermining it."
"This discriminatory bill harms the civil rights of people with disabilities, and sets a troubling precedent that would harm the rights of all who rely on civil rights laws. The bill would institute burdensome notice and filing requirements that would have the effect of no longer requiring compliance with the ADA and of denying discrimination victims access to federal courts. "
Lawsuit to move up SF District Two supervisor election dismissed
The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN/DOMINIC FRACASSA: "A San Francisco Superior Court judge on Thursday scrapped a lawsuit seeking to move the District Two election from November to June."
"Candidate Nick Josefowitz sued the city and his opponent, Supervisor Catherine Stefani , shortly after Mayor Mark Farrell picked Stefani to fill the seat he previously occupied. Josefowitz cited a charter amendment voters approved in 2001 that calls for minimizing the time a political appointee spends in office before facing the ballot, saying it should trigger an election in June, in addition to the one in November."
"But Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn said the election didn’t have to take place that soon and dismissed the case. Josefowitz has vowed to appeal the lawsuit in the state Court of Appeals."
Senate rejects immigration bills; young immigrants in limbo
AP's ALAN FRAM/KEVIN FREKING: "The Senate has left hundreds of thousands of "Dreamer" immigrants in limbo, rejecting rival plans that would have spared them from deportation and strengthened the nation's border security. Senators dealt President Donald Trump an especially galling defeat as more than a quarter of fellow Republicans abandoned him on an issue that helped propel him to the White House."
"Also defeated Thursday was a plan by a bipartisan group of senators who offered a compromise that would have shielded the young immigrants and financed Trump's demands for money to build his border wall, though more gradually than he wants. Eight Republicans joined most Democrats in backing that plan, but it fell short after the White House threatened a veto and GOP leaders opposed it."
"The day's votes, in which four separate proposals were defeated, illustrated anew Congress' steep challenge in striking a deal on an issue that's proven intractable for years and on which each party's most fervent supporters refuse to budge. The outcome suggested there may be no permanent solution soon to help the young immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. as children, despite their sky-high support in public polling."
READ MORE related to Immigration: ICE steps up enforcement at businesses in California, targeting employers and workers -- LA Times' ADAM ELMAHREK; Trump lawyers press SCOTUS to act fast on 'Dreamers' and abortion dispute -- LA Times' DAVID G. SAVAGE; Immigrant rights activists block Homeland Security van from accessing Metropolitan Detention Center -- LA Times' ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN
Comment drew notice: 'I'm going to be a professional school shooter'
WaPo's MATT ZAPOTOSKY/DEVLIN BARRETT/EMMA BROWN: "A tipster alerted the FBI in September to a disturbing comment that had been left beneath an online video. “Im going to be a professional school shooter,” read the comment, posted by YouTube user “nikolas cruz.”
"Two FBI agents interviewed the caller, Mississippi bail bondsman Ben Bennight, the next day. The bureau checked public and law enforcement databases for anyone by Cruz’s name who might be of concern, the FBI said, but could not identify the person who left the comment."
"Five months later, police say, Nikolas Cruz, 19, walked into the Florida high school from which he had been expelled and opened fire, killing 17 people in one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings."
READ MORE related to Gun Pandemic: Lawmakers use campaign funds for NRA dues -- McClatchy DC's BEN WIEDERl; Uber, rampage, then McDonald's: timeline of Florida school shooting -- AP's KELLI KENNEDY/CURT ANDERSON/TAMARA LUSH; The victims of the Douglas High mass shooting -- Miami Herald's RENE RODRIGUEZ/MONIQUE O. MADAN/ALEX HARRIS/MARTIN VASOLLO; Officials renew call to limit gun access by the mentally ill -- NYT's BENJAMIN MUELLER; Florida gunman had extra ammo at school, fired for 3 minutes -- AP's TERRY SPENCER/KELLI KENNEDY/TAMARA LUSH; Florida school shooter may not have been able to buy same gun in California -- The Chronicle's JENNA LYONS; OP-ED: Enough! Congress must act on gun safety -- The Chronicle's EDITORIAL BOARD; They've prepared in drills. They've heard prayers. Now students want real solutions to gun violence -- The Chronicle's JILL TUCKER; FBI was warned about Florida school shooting suspect 5 months ago -- LA Times' MATT PEARCE/JENNY JARVIE; In the wake of tragedy, Trump struggles to show his empathetic side -- LA Times' CHRISTI PARSONS; Manhattan Beach teen arrested after posting Snapchat photo of airsoft gun pointed at students -- LA Times' ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN; Accused South Florida shooter confessed to rampage that killed 17 people -- WaPo's LORI ROZSA/MARK BERMAN/RENAE MERLE; Obama ran out of words on mass shootings. Trump has struggled to find them. -- WaPo's GREG JAFFE/JENNA JOHNSON; Would California-style gun laws have helped stop Florida school shooting? -- BANG's JOHN WOOLFOLK; Threats, hoaxes, anxiety and arrests: An uneasiness in schools after Florida shooting -- WaPo; OP-ED: The NRA can be beat -- NYT's EDITORIAL BOARD; It's time to bring back the assault weapons ban, gun violence experts say -- WaPo's CHRISTOPHER INGRAHAM
A whale on the way? Republic FC in talks with 'several' potential billionaire investors
Sacramento Bee's RYAN LILLIS: "The group leading Sacramento’s effort to land an expansion spot in Major League Soccer said it has held serious conversations with several billionaires interested in becoming investors in the bid."
"Those talks have been with at least three potential investors who could take a lead role – or lead roles – as Sacramento competes with Cincinnati and Detroit for the 26th spot in the nation’s top pro soccer league."
"Sacramento Republic FC officials previously said they are searching for new investors who will help not only cover an estimated $250 million in stadium construction costs and a $150 million MLS expansion fee, but also solidify the team’s long-term viability as a major league franchise."
READ MORE related to Economy & Development: Sacramento finalizing bid to land NBA All-Star Game -- Sacramento Bee's RYAN LILLIS; Science museum could get $7M in naming rights deal with this company -- Sacramento Bee's RYAN LILLIS; Several canned dog food brands are withdrawn over concerns about euthanasia drug -- AP; Peter Thiel, retreating from Silicon Valley's tech scene, is moving to LA -- LA Times' JAMES F. PELTZ/DAVID PIERSON; Why stock prices rarely reflect companies' true value -- Pension Dynamics' STEVE BUTLER
Science project on race and IQ tests boundaries of free speech in high schools
Sacramento Bee's DIANA LAMBERT/ANITA CHABRIA: "When does freedom of speech cross the line on a school campus? As society grows ever more polarized and controversial statements quickly go viral on social media, school leaders are increasingly confronting the boundaries."
"A science fair project at McClatchy High Schoolin Sacramento drew nationwide media attention last week when it attempted to link IQ and race to explain racial disparities in the campus’ high-achieving program. The project was on display for two days before school officials removed it, saying that it had disrupted the learning environment."
"While students questioned why the project was allowed to remain for days despite complaints, some conservatives wondered if the student’s free speech rights were violated when it was taken down."
READ MORE related to Education: Countdown to expand ban on 'willful defiance' suspensions in California schools -- EdSource's DAVID WASHBURN; Michael Kirst weighs another 4 years on state education board after Gov. Brown departs --EdSource's JOHN FENSTERWALD
Record payout approved for Simi Valley man wrongfully convicted of grisly 1978 murders
LA Times' ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN: "For years, from inside a cell at Folsom State Prison, Craig Coley couldn't get anyone to listen."
"But his message was clear and consistent: He was innocent. The killer who actually raped, beat and strangled his ex-girlfriend and smothered her 4-year-old son in her Simi Valley apartment Nov. 11, 1978, was still out there."
Documents haven't quelled JFK conspiracy theories. Do the answers lie abroad?
McClatchy DC's KEVIN G. HALL: "Does the key to unlocking the enduring mystery of the Kennedy assassination lie abroad, in Belarus, Cuba or Mexico?"
"A special review board created in the 1990s to declassify U.S. government assassination secrets tried to secure important information from those countries. It was unsuccessful."
"But as the window for the 25-year-long declassification of John F. Kennedy assassination documents closes on April 26 — with experts warning that a smoking-gun document is unlikely to turn up in the remaining tens of thousands of U.S. government files — pursuit of definitive answers is likely to shift overseas."
A somber Trump calls for policies addressing mental health, but not guns
McClatchy DC's ANITA KUMAR: "A somber President Donald Trump tried to reassure the nation’s children Thursday, a day after a mass shooting in Florida. But he did not mention specific policy changes he would support, including those on gun regulations or laws, which could possibly prevent a school shooting."
"I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be,” Trump said. “You have people who care about you, who love you and who will do anything at all to protect you."
"In his first public address about the shooting, Trump singled out mental health as a security concern. But he steered clear of the contentious debate over gun control that has raged in Washington for years with little action."
READ MORE related to POTUS45/KremlinGate: Trump's inaugural committee paid $26M to firm of FLOTUS adviser -- NYT's MAGGIE HABERMAN/KENNETH P. VOGEL; Stormy Daniels kept shiny gold dress from alleged affair with Trump -- NY Daily News' TERENCE CULLEN; A top Trump campaign adviser close to plea deal with Mueller -- CNN's KATELYN POLANTZ/SARA MURRAY; Steve Bannon met with Mueller multiple times over the past week -- NBC News' HALLIE JACKSON; Mueller deputy Andrew Weissmann has a reputation for hard-changing tactics -- and sometimes going too far -- LA Times' DAVID WILLMAN; Will Trump voters turn out for an election with no Trump? The answer could determine control of Congress -- LA Times' MARK Z. BARABAK; Donald Trump also hooked up with a Playboy Playmate during that wild Lake Tahoe weekend, Ronan Farrow reports -- BANG's MARTHA ROSS
Students celebrate 1st child born in an independent Kosovo
AP: "All the students in a tiny village in Kosovo have gathered to celebrate a very special day for Pavaresia Sopi — a 10th birthday with deep significance for her whole Balkan nation."
"Pavaresia, whose name means "independence" in Albanian, was the first baby born in an independent Kosovo, 15 minutes after independence was declared at an afternoon session in parliament on Feb. 17, 2008."